It took 10 years of quiet living in Foam Lake before Laura Stewart got the chance to walk in a Pride parade in her Saskatchewan community.
After moving from Vancouver to the small town, about 150 kilometres northeast of Regina, embracing Pride was not something the dentist did very publicly.
That changed when some of the children in the community started pushing for change and more Pride activities.
“They’ve inspired me, and I’ll probably get choked up talking about it,” said Stewart, with tears in her eyes.
“It’s liberating, you know, to be able to go back and march in the parade and show … who we love doesn’t really matter, and everyone has the right to be who they are.”
Last year, an eight-year-old girl in town who wanted to go to a Pride parade encouraged the community to have its first, according to Stewart.
Foam Lake held its second Pride parade on June 11 of this year.
Since the 2021 parade, a group of girls have stepped up and, with the help of a teacher, organized a social justice group at their school called We All Matter, or WAM.
The kids have also been the driving force behind other Pride activities this year, including a bigger parade, raising the Pride flag, painting a Pride flag mural on a crosswalk, and creating the Foam Lake Pride Society. Stewart was also one of the founding members of the new Pride society.
‘We can all make people feel … more accepted’
Stewart, originally from Moosomin, Sask., didn’t hide who she was when she came back to the province about 12 yeas ago, after living in B.C.
However, she and her partner also didn’t embrace or celebrate who they were, she said.
She was out, “but when we moved to small town from Vancouver, we became quieter,” said Stewart.
“We didn’t want to be … ‘pushing our agenda,’ as some of our naysayers would call it.”
Ariana Michalchuk is one of the girls stepping up for change and acceptance in the town of about 1,200.
The 11-year-old says she came out to her parents two years ago and told them she was part of the Pride community.
Now she is a member of the WAM group and the Foam Lake Pride Society.
“I think it’s important in small towns because it makes you feel like you’re not alone and like you belong,” said…